‘We are on the brink. We just have a few procedural issues to iron out’ as reported in today’s Irish Independent by Niall O’Connor

THE country’s 45 Garda chief superintendents are today preparing to join their junior counterparts and embark on industrial action, the Irish Independent understands.

The move will mean that for the first time in the history of the State, officers of two senior ranks will refuse to take on additional duties in a row over pay.

Both superintendents and chief superintendents say the Government has reneged on a pay agreement struck around the time rank-and-file gardaí were on the cusp of strike action in November 2016.

Central to the dispute is an anomaly that sees these officers suffer a pay cut of up to €6,000 once they are promoted from the rank of inspector.

The Association of Superintendents, which has about 165 members, has already announced it will not take part in the force’s modernisation and renewal programme.

In practice, this means members are now on a work-to-rule until a resolution is found.

Sources last night confirmed that the chief superintendents, or superintendent bosses as they are known, are preparing to today notify Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin of a similar course of action.

“We are on the brink. We just have a few procedural issues to iron out,” said one source.

The news comes as the Garda Commissioner formally directed superintendents to attend a special seminar on ethics, which is scheduled to take place in Co Galway next week.

Sources told the Irish Independent that the diktat, issued through human resources, will not be complied with. Any such decision will heighten tensions in the force.

Despite the row being over the issue of pay, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform referred queries to the Department of Justice.

An Garda Síochána said the issue is a matter between the relevant superintendent bodies and the Government. Meanwhile, sources last night insisted removing the anomaly would cost the State just €1m a year.

Superintendents also claim to have twice been refused access to the Labour Court – despite previous assurances from Government that access would be extended to all gardaí.

The organisation also said it was under the clear understanding the deal struck by other Garda unions, the GRA and AGSI, in November 2016 would also apply to its members.

The deal brokered at the WRC averted strike action that the Government feared could have had untold consequences. But after a series of interactions with the Department of Justice, superintendents say the Government has not honoured its side of the agreement.

The decision to embark on industrial action was formally communicated to both Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Mr Ó Cualáin in a letter sent by the Association of Garda Superintendents.

The association’s general secretary, Denis Ferry, said the scenario means that officers who are promoted end up losing out financially.

“That has left us in a situation where there is now a significant pay anomaly,” Mr Ferry said.

“We now have people being promoted and they are probably paid between €4,000-€6,000 less than the inspector and that is unprecedented.”

Mr Flanagan said he wanted to see a resolution as soon as possible.

“Work is ongoing to resolve this issue.

“I am in ongoing contact with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in an effort to find a resolution,” he added.